UN: STL documents are inviolable


U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O’Brien filed a request with Judge Antonio Cassese, President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, asking him to refrain from granting Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed access to investigation documents.

O’Brien based her request on “the inviolability of the archives and documents of the United Nations.”

“Any documents or material of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission and any other United Nations documents and material on the criminal file are inviolable under the terms of article 11 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations,” said O’Brien in her “brief on the inviolability of United Nations documents” addressed to Cassese.

“Inviolability entails that the documents cannot be disclosed to a third party, copied or used, including non-judicial proceedings, without the consent of the United Nations. The inviolability applies to United Nations documents, but also extends to documents ‘held’ by it, which may include third party documents given to the United Nations on a confidential basis.”

O’Brien noted that the U.N. has a policy of “maximum cooperation with international criminal tribunals and has developed a practice of disclosing documents on its own volition in certain circumstances in order to facilitate the work of these tribunals.”

“The United Nations respectfully requests that in considering Sayyed’s application for access to his criminal file, and in any other proceedings, the Tribunal, Prosecutors and Defense Counsel appearing before it refrain from disclosing, giving access to and tendering any United Nations documents without prior authorization of the United Nations,” O’Brien said.

A public hearing was held on July 13 at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon headquarters in The Hague at the request of former General Security chief Maj. General Jamil Sayyed , who is seeking access to certain documents pertaining to his arrest in 2005 as a suspect in the murder of Lebanon’s former PM Rafik Hariri.

Sayyed’s lawyer Akram Azoury old the court: ” It is necessary to remind everyone that the General was imprisoned and released without knowing the reasons for his detention and without being able to study his investigation file.”

STL released last year from jail Sayyed along with 3 other generals for lack of sufficient evidence. All 4 officers were arrested in 2005 as suspects in the Hariri murder based on orders from UN Special investigator Detlev Mehlis .

The 4 officers along with the Syrians were in charge of security when Hariri was assassinated in downtown Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005.